After having met with thousands of clients over the years, I tend to hear the same questions over and over again and it never fails how misinformed some clients are when it comes to their custody case. I have prepared this list to present and debunk the top 5 myths in custody matters:
1) My child will choose which parent he/she wants to live with at a certain age. This tends to be the most common bit of misinformation clients have when they come to see me. It is simply not true. In Clark County, Judges do not want children to be put in the middle of their parents’ custody battle. Asking a child to decide which parent they want to live with does exactly that. In Clark County, a child has a voice not a choice. This means your child may be asked to provide information to the Court about the routines in each parent’s household, the make-up of each parent’s household, the discipline used by each parent and what the historical timeshare of the parents has been. Of course your child even having the opportunity to provide this information will depend upon your child’s age and maturity. In reading thousands of child interviews, I can firmly state that I have never once seen the interviewer ask the child to choose which parent they want to live with. It just doesn’t happen.
2) The court prefers mothers over fathers. Again, this is a common misconception in our family court, even in this day and age. It is simply not true. In fact, the law in the State of Nevada specifically states that the Court cannot give preference to either parent because of the parent’s gender. The law in Nevada prefers that parents have joint custody unless there is a real reason not to award joint custody like domestic violence, drug use, abandonment or a historical timeshare where one parent has been the primary provider..
3) My ex needs my permission to leave the State of Nevada. The law states that your ex cannot move with your children out of state without your permission. However, if your ex wants to take your children on vacation out of state this is certainly allowed and encouraged. Think of it this way: your ex can go to Disneyland with your kids but your ex cant move to Disneyland with your kids. Usually, the Court will want the traveling parent to provide an itinerary of the trip including the dates of travel, a phone number where the children can be reached and the accommodations where the children will be staying. So long as your ex is planning a good time for the children out of state, with intentions to return, there is no reason for the other parent to stand in the way.
4) I don’t have to let my ex see the kids if child support isn’t paid. Child support and physical custody are only tangentially related. Withholding your children from your ex for non-payment of child support is not a reason to cut off contact and will be frowned upon by the Court. In addition, withholding the children from your ex for late payment of child support or non-payment of child support may result in you losing custody altogether. Parents have a Constitutional right to have contact and parent their children. The payment of child support is not a reason to not allow contact with the paying parent. If your ex hasn’t paid child support, file a motion with the Court, garnish your ex’s wages or get the DA involved. DO NOT WITHHOLD YOUR CHILDREN FROM YOUR EX.
5) I will just terminate my rights and then I wont have to pay child support. You cannot voluntarily terminate your parental rights. Further, simply wanting a parent out of a child’s life because they don’t pay their support is not a basis to terminate their parental rights. Termination of parental rights requires a number of things including complete abandonment of the child for a period of time, non-payment of child support for a period of time and a finding that it is in the child’s best interest that rights be terminated. Judges generally will not terminate a parent’s rights simply because they don’t want to, or have not, paid child support.
If you need help with a custody case, call our office at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form for more information.